Basin switches on for cricket

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014
Basin Reserve

LIGHT 'EM UP: Wellington cricket ground the Basin Reserve looks set to have floodlights installed so night matches can be played at the historic venue.

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Cricket is poised to leave Westpac Stadium as the Wellington City Council looks to install floodlights at the Basin Reserve.

Cricket Wellington (CW) and the Basin Reserve Trust are "wrapping up a very solid proposal" to the council, detailing the costs required to bring day-night test and limited-overs cricket to the Basin.

The council, CW, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and Westpac Stadium management have discussed the idea for some time, with a council spokesman saying there was support for putting the funding of floodlights into its Long Term Plan for 2015-25.

That's part of wider talks about funding for sporting venues in Wellington, which could include turning the playing surface at Westpac Stadium into a rectangle better suited to rugby and football.

"If it was decided that the best outcome was to concentrate top quality elite cricket at the Basin, then part of that discussion would have to be the construction of floodlights here," CW chief executive Peter Clinton said.

"The council's got airport runways extensions, it's got pressure on the town hall, it's got issues around having an indoor concert venue, so it's got competing priorities in terms of where it needs to put its money," he said.

"But one of those discussions is about what we need to do in Wellington to ensure we have top quality international stadia to host the events that we want to host."

Philips has indicated it would tender to install LED lights at the Basin, having done similar work at the Beijing Olympic Stadium, football World Cup grounds in Brazil and English venues such as Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. In New Zealand, its LED lights are used in Eden Park, Forsyth Barr Stadium and Trafalgar Park.

Gordon Wiffen, general manager of Philips Lighting New Zealand, said the advantage of LED lighting was that it did not impact on neighbouring homes or businesses.

"Some stadiums have a bit of [light] spillage. With LED you go from perfect light, to dark, with very little spill."

He added that it was impossible to estimate the cost of lighting the Basin without doing a detailed investigation.

Westpac Stadium has hosted international limited-overs cricket in Wellington since 2000, as part of a contractual agreement with NZC. Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said the length of that deal was commercially sensitive, but the Black Caps would continue playing there for the "foreseeable future".

Harmon said he supported the idea of lights being installed at the Basin Reserve, but doubted it would generate the revenue Westpac did.

"We had 13,000 for the ODI [one-day international] against India this year and if you take that game to the Basin you're only going to get half that crowd in there," Harmon said.

"If there's a desire amongst the Wellington City Council and the regional council to change the mix [of codes] within existing venues and there's a discussion to be had, then we'd be happy to enter into that debate."

Harmon said a report into the potential for a roof at Westpac Stadium, or changing the configuration of the playing field, would be completed in the next two months.

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- The Dominion Post

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